Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>stripping "milk paint" from woodwork
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CJKeith
stripping "milk paint" from woodwork

I live in a Civil War home built in 1864. The woodwork is poplar and oak. On it is what I am told is called "milk paint" and several layers of it. What is a good product to use to get this horrible stuff off. Thank you.

P.S. I plan on varnishing, not repainting. The products I have found say for use when planning to repaint.

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: stripping "milk paint" from woodwork

Hi,
The problem is that the stripper chemicals required to break down the milk protein binder also change the color of many wood species.
Ammonia and Peel-away (original formula) work great on milk paint. Ammonia turns oak a grayish brown, and Peel-away1 will turn pine green and oak a nice nut-brown. I think you are pretty much okay with either one on the poplar, though. Ammonia (use clear ammonia without added detergent) will simply evaporate, but Peel-away has to be neutralized. Good luck.
Casey

CJKeith
Re: stripping "milk paint" from woodwork

Bear with my questions, please. So if I use the peel away....are you saying it works good? If I neutralize the peal away...........how do I do that? Thank you for your time.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: stripping "milk paint" from woodwork

Considering the age of the house it is possible you have hide glue based paint rather than milk paint. That just takes a lot of multiple stripping with paint remover.

Jack

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: stripping "milk paint" from woodwork
CJKeith wrote:

Bear with my questions, please. So if I use the peel away....are you saying it works good? If I neutralize the peal away...........how do I do that? Thank you for your time.

Peel away will darken the oak. Ammonia will gray it. I think you will be forced to sand and scr ape to keep from darkening the color of the wood, unless brown is okay with you. And the brown color from a caustic is deep and indelible. I personally would be okay with brown oak. The other thing is that scraping and sanding is definitely going to remove the old patina from the wood, so you are in a trap either way.
If it's glue based (I think that's called a distemper paint) then it would be water-soluble, but that's not going to get the pigment out of the oak pores.
Sad to say, but you're screwed.
Casey

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